New dead sea scroll find; Israel's impending fourth election: Israel Update

March 19, 2021

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) suspended plans for a summit in Abu Dhabi with Israel, the US and Arab states in protest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attempts to use Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed as a prop in his election campaign. Bin Zayed was reportedly outraged over Netanyahu’s proclamation last Monday that the UAE would be investing $10 billion into Israel, and for what he regarded as Netanyahu “exploiting the normalization deal with Israel as a part of his election campaign.” Netanyahu has sought to burnish his credentials as Israel’s leading statesman as part of his reelection pitch ahead of March 23 polls, and a UAE visit could have aided that effort. The Israeli prime minister had been long planning and repeatedly canceling an official visit to Abu Dhabi, most recently scheduled for last week. Netanyahu told Israeli Army Radio on Wednesday he intends to travel to the Gulf country after the Israeli elections are over.


Israeli archaeologists on Tuesday announced the discovery of dozens of Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish texts found in desert caves in the West Bank near Qumran in the 1940s and 1950s, date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. They include the earliest known copies of biblical texts and documents outlining the beliefs of a little understood Jewish sect. The roughly 80 new pieces belong to a set of fragments of parchment which bear lines of Greek text from the books of Zechariah and Nahum and have been dated around the first century based on the writing style, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. They are the first new scrolls found in archaeological excavations in the desert south of Jerusalem in 60 years.


The High Court struck down the government’s capacity limit of 3,000 travelers per day at Ben-Gurion Airport, declaring the policy unconstitutional. The court’s decision comes just days before Israel’s elections, which has raised concerns among public health officials that the ruling was influenced by politics over public safety. Israel’s coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash criticized the High Court’s ruling lifting the restrictions to allow Israelis to return to vote, saying it will increase COVID-19 morbidity rates and heighten the risk from dangerous variants of the virus. Meanwhile, Health Ministry director-general Chevy Levy took a different stance in a press conference saying, “We completely respect the High Court decision.” The policy had been imposed to minimize coronavirus transmission back in January and has resulted in thousands of Israelis being unable to return to their country.


The Biden administration will reportedly push for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, reinstating US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to more traditionally held positions than those of former president Donald Trump. A memo titled “The US Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward,” which was revealed Wednesday to the Abu Dhabi-based The National, also showed that the Biden administration is planning on announcing a $15 million aid package in coronavirus-related humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians as early as this month. 


The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. This page is consistently updated to help you stay informed about efforts to support our community during this time. Click here for detailed information about COVID-19 vaccination.


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


P.S. If you or a friend would like to get our own, up-to-the-minute Israel Update, you can sign up here; when asked for "interests" click "weekly Israel Update."

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Israel Post-Election Analysis: Israelis go to the polls next week in a hotly contested election that will decide the makeup of the Knesset. Join us Wednesday, March 24 at 2 PM EST for a post-election analysis with Lahav Harkov, Senior Contributing Editor, The Jerusalem Post. As the results come in, Harkov will help us understand what they mean and what kind of government is likely to emerge. Click here to register.


Cincinnati Remembers: Yom HaShoah Day of Holocaust Remembrance: Tune into our local PBS station Sunday, April 11 at 2:30 PM EST, for this year’s Yom HaShoah commemoration to remember the six million victims of the Holocaust and honor the survivors. For a full list of programming, click here.


Cincinnati Celebrates: Yom HaAtzmaut Israel Independence Day: Join the Cincinnati community Monday, April 12 via Zoom for a day of learning and fun across Jewish Cincinnati in celebration of 73 years of Israeli independence. Click here to RSVP.


Cincinnati Honors: Yom HaZikaron Israel Memorial Day:  Join the Cincinnati community Tuesday, April 13 at 5:30 PM EST via Zoom for a memorial service to honor the fallen soldiers and victims of terror who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel. We will pay respects through poems and music as we explore our responsibility to care for each other. Click here to RSVP.


Forward Focus: This 4-part series focuses on religious diversity in Israel. In this series, we will hear from experts, religious leaders, and changemakers who will take us on a deep dive into the diversity of Jewish life in Israel. Explore Israel's fascinating landscape and what it means to be Jewish in our homeland by learning more and registering here.



Our JCRC is curating a diverse schedule of webinars, hosted by our local and national partners, on Israel and other issues related to our work. Click here to view this calendar.


Together, we can do virtually anything. If you or a loved one needs help during this crisis, please reach out to our COVID-19 Hotline.


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